What is Tort Law for? Part 1: The Place of Corrective Justice

61 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2010 Last revised: 26 Jan 2010

See all articles by John Gardner

John Gardner

University of Oxford (deceased)

Date Written: January 18, 2010


In this paper I discuss the proposal that the law of torts exists to do justice, more specifically corrective justice, between the parties to a tort case. My aims include clarifying the proposal and defending it against some objections (as well as saving it from some defences that it could do without). Gradually the paper turns to a discussion of the rationale for doing corrective justice. I defend what I call the 'continuity thesis' according to which at least part of the rationale for doing corrective justice is to mitigate one's wrongs, including one's torts. I try to show how much of the law of torts this thesis helps to explain, but also what it leaves unexplained. In the process I show (what I will discuss in a later companion paper) that 'corrective justice' cannot be a complete answer to the question of what tort law is for.

Keywords: Tort, breach of contract, wrongdoing, justice, efficiency, reparation, correction, reasons, obligations

Suggested Citation

Gardner, John, What is Tort Law for? Part 1: The Place of Corrective Justice (January 18, 2010). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1/2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1538342 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1538342

John Gardner (Contact Author)

University of Oxford (deceased)

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